The importance of hunting in these grounds stretches back to their founding in 1747 that very much came about due to the hunting potential of this environment. The practice of hunting itself is bound up with human nature ever since pre-historical times, evolving from an activity essential to human survival and as a means of supplementing diets to a recreational and leisure practice bound up with the enjoyment of nature and the management of animal species population levels.
In continuity of its original vocation as a hunting park for the monarchs of Portugal, the National Hunting Grounds of Mafra still today remains a National Hunting Zone. In the Grounds, this sporting practice coexists in total harmony with nature, allying the leisure component with the necessary maintenance of balance within their respective ecosystems and essential to the vitality of the animals themselves. As this is a walled space and broadly without natural predators, the hunting activities enable a balance to be kept between the different animal populations living in the grounds and simultaneously limiting the pressures caused by the animals on the vegetation.
Hunting management spans a set of technical actions. These include among them the careful control over the density of the populations hunted, the management of the vegetation in such a way as to improve the habitat conditions and the food supplied to animals in periods of scarcity. Hunting management also holds an important ecological role as it replaces the role played in times long gone by predators such as the Iberian wolf. The pressure of animals on the vegetation is thus kept at balanced levels and thus avoiding any environmental degradation.
The Grounds host, at specific times of the year and following limited and restricted pre-registration, days for hunting larger species, deer and fallow deer and wild boar. The restriction of hunting to specific periods of the year stems from the objective of not interfering with the animal breeding seasons. The type of hunting varies in accordance with the respective animal species. The wild boar are hunted in parties on nights of a full moon between March and November while the deer and fallow deer are hunted selectively by parties organised between October and February.